We relocated to Paris as a family of 4 in April 2009 to plant a church, following what we felt to be the call of God to come “rebuild” the city that lies in ruins (we felt the Lord speak to us so clearly from the book of Nehemiah), to plant a lampstand as a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.
We did this in full submission and accountability of our sending church leaders, and of the New Covenant Ministries International team (ncmi.net) with whom we have been partnering in this journey.
Our church took a few years to get off the ground, we grew slowly and are still growing by the grace of God. Today, we gather around 150 people each Sunday. We have 15 home groups meeting in the city mid-week.
The promise of a place of our own
Finding a venue for our church has been one of our big battles in Paris – because a lot of places are anti-church (not good for their image to have a church meeting on their property) and also very expensive (for info: all public buildings, including public schools, are not permitted to host religious meetings).
On the 6th May 2018 we were meeting in a basement with around 40-50 people gathering each Sunday. A pastor friend from South Africa came over to preach one Sunday and afterwards asked us why we don’t look at acquiring a property. My initial response is that we’d love to, but simply don’t have the means. He then said this: “if you have such a project, I am sure the whole world will get behind it”. During our conversation, a seed was sown … a seed of possibility and of faith - that it was possibly God’s plan for us and that it was indeed possible.
A few days after that during our NCMI Equip Conference (an annual equipping time for churches in France that we host), an amazing set of events happened:
• 9 May 2018 in conversation one evening with a pastor friend (Craig Meyer): « I don't think I'll see some of God's promises for La Cité (the name of our church) – that's probably for generations to come. »
• 10 May 2018:
• « You will see it ». During a time of worship, Vanessa (my wife) turns to me and says she feels these words for me. She was not aware of the conversation I had the evening before.
• I was stunned to hear those words and during the same worship session I felt God say to me: « I will put money in your hands for your premises before the end of this Equip conference »
• After worship, one of the speakers (James Crawford) preached on Ephesians 3 :20 (Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think …). He urged us to write down some dreams that we think are impossible today or that we want to ask God for. I wrote « A venue of our own » among other things.
• That evening, after the sessions ended, a young lady from our church came to me and my wife and told us that God had prompted her heart to give a sum of money towards a venue of our own (we had never spoken to our church about a venue of our own, and she was not aware of any of the conversations / events that preceded this). She placed in our hands a cheque of 7,000€ towards our premises (money she had been saving to purchase an apartment). She felt like she was like the little boy who took 5 loaves and 2 fishes to Jesus, and Jesus multiplied that to feed 3,000 men - the feeling that God will multiply what we put in His hands.
"You will see it"
• 11 May 2018 (the last day of the Equip conference):
• « You will see it » Steve Sudworth who pastors a church in Chicago comes to me before the first session and says the exact same words that Vanessa had told me the day before.
• « God wants to remind you that the promise is for YOU and your descendants » And finally another speaker (Quinton Preen) comes to me privately at the end of the Equip and says these words to me.
I am sharing this in some details as it was a defining moment in God speaking so clearly about the possibility of this happening.
Following this time, we started a building fund without any real projects on the horizon. Today we have 24 000 Euros into this building fund.
During Covid and since Covid, we did not speak about this at all with our church … it often featured in our conversations as elders, but we never did anything with it as the timing didn’t feel right.
Then on the 8th November 2022 I shared with our staff (3 of us) and our elders that I was wondering if the season at our current venue was beginning to come to an end. Our church has grown significantly since July 2022, and our venue has some limiting factors that is beginning to impact what we believe God wants to do and our future effectiveness. After I shared this, one of our eldership couples said they had been looking for a venue recently (unbeknown to me) and had found this property to purchase for 13,5 million Euros. We laughed and joked about it. But then had a time of prayer, and faith rose up in us that for God this is possible - 13m Euros is a lot for us and seems impossible, but for God it’s not a lot, and very possible.
I came away from that time in wonder of what God will do.
15th Nov 2022: We gathered with some pastors from the Netherlands and Germany (to plan our next Equip Conference), and we got on the topic of money and buildings as one of the big challenges of the church in Europe. So we had an extended time of prayer around that, and particularly about God prompting hearts to give (2 King 12:4 … and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD, …). We prayed specifically about buildings and venues.
16th Nov 2022: We woke up with a message from the same young lady who had given us 7 000 Euros in 2018 (she is from Vietnam). She is visiting her family in Vietnam and was sharing with her 5yr old niece about our church. This 5yr old said she wanted to give towards our building and brought all her savings (as a 5yr old) to her to give us. So she did a bank transfer of 0.51 cents towards our building fund. The timing of this seems amazing.
This is a detailed account of how we feel the Lord has led us to this point.
On Wednesday 30th Nov. 2022, I phoned the agent to discuss the property and find out more information – acting purely in faith.
The sentiment I have today (2nd Dec. 2022) is that:
1. This is way bigger than us and we need partners globally to make this a reality.
2. That we need to walk forward in this project with faith, with open hands and an open heart. It could be that God will provide for us to purchase this property, or that He is getting us ready for another property.
3. This property seems to tick all the boxes of what would be helpful for our future as a base church for France and Europe – and a property like this doesn’t come on the market too often in Paris.
4. I will setup an appointment with the agent and the owners asap to take the conversation forward.
Have facilities in Paris in which:
1. The church can meet on Sundays and mid-week when necessary
2. Conferences can be held to equip the churches in France and in Europe
3. Community building activities can take place (with strong biblical values at its core) around:
a. The family – marriage and parenting courses and counselling (in France, more that 50% of babies are born outside marriage, and there are very little good resources to help couples and parents in this field).
b. Youth and young adults gatherings
c. A creche / pre-primary school
d. Creativity and arts centre
4. Small and medium-sized businesses or associations can rent meeting halls to generate some income and optimize the cost of real estate in Paris.
The building is a tool for the task of making disciples of ALL nations, and specifically of France.
Make history with us!
READ MORE ABOUT THE PARIS EPICENTRE HERE